Āishah bint Abī Bakr (613/614 – 678 CE), the mother of the believers, was one of Muhammad‘s wives.
Aisha had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Muhammad’s life and after his death. In Sunni tradition, Aisha is portrayed as scholarly and inquisitive. She contributed to the spread of Muhammad’s message and served the Muslim community for 44 years after his death. She is also known for narrating 2210 hadiths, not just on matters related to Muhammad’s private life, but also on topics such as inheritance, pilgrimage, and eschatology. Her intellect and knowledge in various subjects, including poetry and medicine, were highly praised by early luminaries such as al-Zuhri and her student Urwa ibn al-Zubayr.
Her father, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph to succeed Muhammad, and after two years was succeeded by Umar. During the time of the third caliph Uthman, Aisha had a leading part in the opposition that grew against him, though she did not agree either with those responsible for his assassination nor with the party of Ali. During the reign of Ali, she wanted to avenge Uthman’s death, which she attempted to do in the Battle of the Camel. She participated in the battle by giving speeches and leading troops on the back of her camel. She ended up losing the battle, but her involvement and determination left a lasting impression. Afterward, she lived quietly in Medina for more than twenty years, took no part in politics, became reconciled to Ali and did not oppose caliph Mu’awiya.
The majority of traditional hadith sources state that Aisha was married to Muhammad at the age of six or seven, but she stayed in her parents’ home until the age of nine, or ten according to Ibn Hisham, when the marriage was consummated with Muhammad, then 53, in Medina. This timeline has been challenged by a number of scholars in modern times.
The Shia have a generally negative view of Aisha. They accuse her of hating Ali and defying him during his caliphate in the Battle of the Camel, when she fought men from Ali’s army in Basra.